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Sweden rejects WikiLeaks editor's residency request

From Atika Shubert, CNN
  • Julian Assange's application failed to fulfill all the requirements, an official says
  • She declined to give more information, citing confidentiality laws
  • Assange faces rape and molestation charges; it isn't clear if that affected his application
  • His website publishes what it says are secret documents

(CNN) -- WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange's application for permanent residency in Sweden has been rejected, a Swedish Migration Board official told CNN Monday.

His application failed to fulfill all the requirements, Gunilla Wikstrom said. She declined to give further details, citing Swedish confidentiality laws.

He has three weeks to appeal, she said.

Assange's website publishes what it says are leaked secret documents, including 76,000 pages of documents related to the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Additionally, WikiLeaks is expected to publish as early as this week about 400,000 military documents from the Iraq war that were leaked to the site.

Assange faces charges of rape and molestation in Sweden, allegations that came out after the Afghanistan documents were published. It is not clear if the outstanding investigation had any bearing on his residency application.

"There is reason to believe that a crime has been committed," Marianne Ny, Sweden's director of public prosecutions, said in a statement last month. "Considering information available at present, my judgment is that the classification of the crime is rape."

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She said more investigation is necessary before she can make a final decision.

An ongoing investigation about a separate charge of molestation will be extended, she added, but the charge will also be escalated to include a sexual component.

The previous molestation charge was equivalent to a non-sexual charge of harassment, but it will now come under the heading of sexual coercion and sexual molestation, which are both crimes, she said.

Assange's lawyer, Leif Silbersky, said last month he and his client were "very surprised" at the decisions.

"It's unbelievable," he told CNN. "We thought that this circus had ended. Now it's happening all over again."

Prosecutors questioned Assange for about an hour in September, though only about the complaint of molestation, Silbersky told CNN. He said police never mentioned the rape allegation during that questioning.

"He maintains that he is completely innocent," Silbersky said.

Assange told the Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera on August 22 that the accusations were "clearly a smear campaign." The only question, he said, is who is behind it.

CNN's Per Nyberg contributed to this report.